The top section shows the Victorian mill town I grew up in, with its two up, two down industrial terraced houses and a memory of capitalist mill-owners and civic pride expressed in the classical-style Town Hall. Between leaving school and going to university I worked at various jobs, the first being in a cotton mill. The first union I joined had its headquarters, fittingly enough, on Cotton Street and was splendidly called ‘The Accrington, Church and Oswaldtwistle Weavers, Winders and Warpers Association’. I often wish I had still got my union card with its record of my 4d a week payments on it…
The Ship matchbox is a pop art icon I used extensively in the 1970’s. From it pours an evocation of the 60’s – with some actual work from 1967 and 1968 in the collage. Next to it, behind some 1985 scraps of wrappers and newspaper (all painted) is a glimpse of the Dawes Realmrider bike I had as a teenager and on which I cycled hundreds of miles.
‘Atlantis’ reflects a period in the 70’s when I was a keen ley-line hunter and my favourite book was John Michell’s ‘the View over Atlantis’.
Below this is a pub scene which I later developed into the painting ‘Once There Were Pubs’. There is also the bread shop to which I used to run errands in 1960, Accrington station in 1962, A Ribble bus ticket from 1966, the view from my bedroom window in 1967 and me as an 8 year old sitting on a little stool outside our back door.
After the totally abstract section is an aerial Lancastrian view with clouds coloured to match the wallpaper in our lounge where this work originally was hung, merging the work into our everyday reality.